The British Broadcasting Corporation, usually known as the BBC, is the United Kingdom's state-owned broadcasting corporation, responsible for four of the UK's terrestrial television channels, a variety of national and local radio stations, and a considerable internet and commercial presence. It is the largest corporation of its kind in the world in terms of audience numbers, employing 26,000 staff in the UK alone and with a budget of more than GB£4 billion (US$7.9 billion). However, it is not a fully private enterprise, with a large portion of its funding coming from a governmental television license which British television users must purchase. Internationally, it is best known for its popular English language station, the BBC World Service, its internet news services, and popular exports such as Doctor Who, one of the BBC's 'flagship' programmes.
Founded in 1922 as the British Broadcasting Company Ltd, it was subsequently granted a Royal Charter and made a state-owned but independent corporation in 1927. The stated mission of the BBC is "to inform, educate and entertain"; its motto is Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation.
The BBC is a quasi-autonomous Public Corporation operating as a public service broadcaster. The Corporation is run by the BBC Trust; however, the BBC is, per its charter, to be "free from both political and commercial influence and answers only to its viewers and listeners". However, as might be expected for a corporation of such size and reputation, BBC decision-making has come under fire at times from politicians, the media and ordinary viewers, for broadcasts and policies ranging from the amount of on-screen violence to coverage of conflicts such as the Iraq War. Where appropriate, the BBC has also entered various topical issues; a recent example has been its campaign to free its employee Alan Johnston, a BBC journalist whose whereabouts since being kidnapped in the Gaza Strip as yet undetermined. On-screen, the BBC has broadcast various consumer affairs programmes which expose substandard services and illegal activities; Watchdog was a particularly controversial programme in this respect.
Its domestic programming and broadcasts are primarily funded by levying television licence fees (under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949), although money is also raised through commercial activities such as sale of merchandise and programming. The BBC World Service, however, is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In order to justify the licence fee, the BBC is expected to produce a number of high-rating shows in addition to programmes that commercial broadcasters would not normally broadcast.
Domestic audiences often affectionately refer to the BBC as "the Beeb", a nickname coined by Kenny Everett. Another nickname, now less commonly used, is "Auntie", said to originate from the old-fashioned "Auntie knows best" attitude in the days when John Reith, the BBC's founder, was in charge. The two nicknames have also been used together as "Auntie Beeb", and Auntie has been used in outtakes programmes such as Auntie's Bloomers.
- 1 History
- 2 Corporation
- 2.1 Royal Charter
- 2.2 Corporate structure
- 2.3 Management
- 2.4 Finance
- 2.5 Headquarters and regional offices
- 2.6 News
- 2.7 Radio
- 2.8 Television
- 2.9 Internet
- 2.10 Interactive television
- 2.11 Commercial services
- 2.12 Miscellaneous
- 3 Unions
- 4 Cultural significance
- 5 Criticism
- 6 See also
- 7 References
The original British Broadcasting Company was founded in 1922 by a group of telecommunications companies (including subsidiaries of General Electric and AT&T) to broadcast experimental radio services. The first transmission was on 14 November of that year, from station 2LO, located at Marconi House, London.
The Company, with John Reith as general manager, became the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1927 when it was granted a Royal Charter of incorporation and ceased to be privately owned. It started experimental television broadcasting in 1932 using an entirely mechanical 30 line system developed by John Logie Baird. It became a regular service (known as the BBC Television Service) in 1936 alternating between a Baird mechanical 240 line system and the all electronic 405 line EMI system. The superiority of the electronic system saw the mechanical system dropped later that year. Television broadcasting was suspended from 1 September 1939 to 7 June 1946 during the Second World War. A widely reported urban myth is that, upon resumption of service, announcer Leslie Mitchell started by saying, "As I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted..." In fact, the first person to appear when transmission resumed was Jasmine Bligh and the words said were "Good afternoon, everybody. How are you? Do you remember me, Jasmine Bligh...?"
The European Broadcasting Union was formed on 12 February, 1950, in Torquay with the BBC among the 23 founding broadcasting organisations.
Competition to the BBC was introduced in 1955 with the commercially and independently operated television network ITV. The BBC monopoly on radio services persisted until the 1970's. As a result of the Pilkington Committee report of 1962, in which the BBC was lauded and ITV was very heavily criticised for not providing enough quality programming, the BBC was awarded a second TV channel, BBC2, in 1964, renaming the existing channel BBC1. BBC2 used the higher resolution 625 line standard which had been standardised across Europe. BBC2 was broadcast in colour from 1 July 1967, and was joined by BBC 1 and ITV on 15 November 1969. The 405 line transmissions were continued for compatibility with older television receivers for some years.
Starting in 1964 a series of pirate radio stations (starting with Radio Caroline) came on the air, and forced the UK government to finally deregulate radio services. In response the BBC reorganized and renamed their radio channels. The Light Programme was split into Radio-1 offering continuous rock music and Radio-2 more "Easy Listening". The "Third" programme became Radio-3 offering classical music and cultural programming. The Home Service became Radio-4 offering news, and non-musical content such as quiz shows, readings, dramas and plays. As well as the four national channels, a series of local BBC radio stations was established.
In 1974, the BBC's teletext service, Ceefax, was introduced but was not finally transmitted in vision as such until April 1980. unverified In 1978, the BBC went on strike just before the Christmas of that year, thus blocking out the transmission of both channels and amalgamating all four radio stations into one. unverified
Since the deregulation of the UK television and radio market in the 1970s, the BBC has faced increased competition from the commercial sector (and from the advertiser-funded public service broadcaster Channel 4), especially on satellite television, cable television, and digital television services. unverified
The BBC Research Department has played a major part in the development of broadcasting and recording techniques. In the early days it carried out essential research into acoustics and programme level and noise measurement. unverified
The 2004 Hutton Inquiry and the subsequent Report raised questions about the BBC's journalistic standards and its impartiality. This led to resignations of senior management members at the time including the then Director General, Greg Dyke. In January 2007, the BBC released minutes of the Board meeting which led to Greg Dyke's resignation. Many commentators have considered the discussions documented in the minutes to have made Dyke's ability to remain in position untenable and tantamount to a dismissal. unverified
Unlike the other departments of the BBC, BBC World Service is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, more commonly known as the Foreign Office or the FCO, is the British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom abroad.
The BBC is a quasi-autonomous Public Corporation operating as a public service broadcaster incorporated under a Royal Charter that is reviewed every 10 years. Until 2007, the Corporation was run by a board of governors appointed by The Queen or King on the advice of the government for a term of four years, but on 1 January, 2007 the Board of Governors was replaced with the BBC Trust. The BBC is required by its charter to be free from both political and commercial influence and to answer only to its viewers and listeners.
The most recent Charter came into effect on 1 January, 2007. It has created a number of important changes to the Corporation's management and purpose:
- Abolition of the Board of Governors, and their replacement by the BBC Trust.
- A redefinition of the BBC's "public services" (which are considered its prime function):
- sustaining citizenship and civil society;
- promoting education and learning;
- stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;
- representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities;
- bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK;
- helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services, and taking a leading role in the switchover to digital television.
- The BBC must display at least one of the following characteristics in all content: high quality, originality, innovation, to be challenging and to be engaging.
- The BBC must demonstrate that it provides public value in all its major activities.
- Governance Unit
- Content Groups
- Journalism (incorporates News, Sport, Global News and Nations and Regions)
- Vision (incorporates all TV production)
- Audio and Music
- Future Media and Technology (Incorporates New Media, R&D, Information and Archives)
- Professional Services
- Strategy (formerly Strategy and Distribution and merged with Policy and Legal)
- Marketing, Communications and Audiences
- BBC Workplace (Property)
- BBC People (to 2004, Human Resources & Internal Communications)
- BBC Training & Development
- Commercial Groups
The BBC is a nominally autonomous corporation, independent from direct government intervention, with its activities being overseen by the BBC Trust, formerly the Board of Governors. General management of the organisation is in the hands of a Director-General, who is appointed by the Trust.
The BBC Trust came into effect on 1 January 2007, replacing the Board of Governors.
The BBC Trust works on behalf of licence fee payers: it ensures the BBC provides high quality output and good value for all UK citizens and it protects the independence of the BBC. — BBC Trust
The Trust sets the overall strategic direction for the corporation and assess the performance of the BBC Executive Board. The Trust has twelve trustees, currently:
- Lord Patten (Chair)
- Diane Coyle (Vice-chair)
- Sonita Alleyne
- Richard Ayre
- Alison Hastings (Trustee for England)
- David Liddiment
- Bill Matthews (Trustee for Scotland)
- Aideen McGinley (Trustee for Northern Ireland)
- Nicholas Prettejohn
- Elan Closs Stephens (Trustee for Wales)
- Suzanna Taverne
- Lord Williams
The original trustees, three former governors and eight new members, were announced by Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, in October 2006.. Michael Grade, then Chairman of the Governors, was to become Chairman of the Trust at the time of the announcement, but due to his move to ITV, Chitra Bharucha became the Acting Chair, with Sir Michael Lyons taking over as Chairman from 1 May 2007.
The Executive Board oversees the effective delivery of the corporation's objectives and obligations within a framework set by the BBC Trust, and is headed by the Director-General, Tony Hall. The Executive Board, consists of seven directors from the different operations of the group, and five non-executive directors, appointed to provide independent and professional advice to the Executive Board. The members are:
- Tony Hall (Board Chairman and Director-General)
- Helen Boaden (Director, BBC Radio)
- Danny Cohen (Director, BBC Television)
- James Harding (Director, News and Current Affairs)
- James Purnell (Director, Strategy and Digital)
- Lucy Adams (Director, Human Resources)
- Anne Bulford (Managing Director, Operations and Finance)
The Board of Governors regulated the group from incorporation in 1927 until 31 December 2006, when the Board was replaced by the BBC Trust. The governors as of the dissolution of the Board were:
- Anthony Salz (Acting Chairman)
- Professor Ranjit Sondhi (National Governor for the English regions)
- Professor Fabian Monds (National Governor for Northern Ireland)
- Professor Merfyn Jones (National Governor for Wales)
- Jeremy Peat (National Governor for Scotland)
- Deborah Bull
- Baroness Deech
- Dermot Gleeson
- Angela Sarkis
- Richard Tait
The BBC has the largest budget of any UK broadcaster with an operating expenditure of £4 billion in 2005 compared to £3.2 billion for British Sky Broadcasting, £1.7 billion for ITV and £79 million (in 2006) for GCap Media (the largest commercial radio broadcaster).
The principal means of funding the BBC is through the television licence, costing £11.37 a month if paid by direct debit (as of February 2007). Such a licence is required to operate a broadcast television receiver within the UK. The cost of a television licence is set by the government and enforced by the criminal law. The revenue is collected privately and is paid into the central government Consolidated fund, a process defined in the Communications Act 2003. Funds are then allocated by the DCMS and Treasury and approved by Parliament via the Appropriation Act(s). Additional revenues are paid by the Department for Work and Pensions to compensate for subsidised licences for over-75's. As the state controls BBC's funding, it is sometimes referred as a "state" broadcaster.
Income from commercial enterprises and from overseas sales of its catalogue of programmes has substantially increased over recent years. with BBC Worldwide contributing some £145million in cash to the BBC's core public service business.
According to the BBC's 2005-2006 Annual Report, its income can be broken down as follows:
- £3,100.6 m licence fees collected from consumers.
- £620.0 m from BBC Commercial Businesses.
- £260.2 m from the World Service, of which £239.1 m is from grants (primarily funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), £15.8 m from subscriptions, and £5.3 m from other sources.
- £24.2 m from other income, such as providing content to overseas broadcasters and concert ticket sales.
The BBC gives two forms of expenditure statement for the financial year 2005-2006.
The amount of each licence fee spent monthly breaks down as follows:
|Department||Monthly cost (GBP)|
|Transmission and collection costs||£1.08|
|Nations and English Regions television||£1.04|
|BBC Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 and Five Live||£1.02|
|Digital television channels||£1.00|
|Nations' and local radio||68p|
|Digital radio stations||10p|
|Interactive TV (BBCi)||8p|
The total broadcasting spend for 2005-2006 is given as:
|Department||Total cost (£million)|
|Interactive TV (BBCi)||18|
|Local radio and regional television||370|
|Programme related spend||338|
|Overheads and Digital UK||315|
|Transmission and collection costs||320|
Headquarters and regional offices
Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London is the official headquarters of the BBC. It is home to the national radio networks BBC Radio 2, 3, 4, 6 Music, and BBC 7. On the front of the building are statues of Prospero and Ariel (from Shakespeare's The Tempest) sculpted by Eric Gill.
Renovation of Broadcasting House began in 2002 and is scheduled for completion in 2010. As part of a major reorganisation of BBC property, Broadcasting House is to become home to BBC News (both television and radio), national radio, and the BBC World Service. The major part of this plan involves the demolition of the two post-war extensions to the building and construction of a new building beside the existing structure. During the rebuilding process many of the BBC Radio networks have been relocated to other buildings in the vicinity of Portland Place.
In 2007/2008, BBC News is expected to relocate from the News Centre at BBC Television Centre to the refurbished Broadcasting House in what is being described as "one of the world's largest live broadcast centres".
By far the largest concentration of BBC staff in the UK exists in White City. Well known buildings in this area include the BBC Television Centre, White City, Media Centre, Broadcast Centre and Centre House.
As well as the various BBC buildings in London, there are major BBC production centres located in Cardiff, Belfast, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Southampton and Newcastle upon Tyne. Some of these local centres (for example Belfast) are also known as "Broadcasting House" (see Broadcasting House (disambiguation)). There are also many smaller local and regional studios scattered throughout the UK.
In 2011, the BBC is planning to move several departments of the BBC North. The leading candidate is Salford Quays in Greater Manchester. This will mark a major decentralisation of the corporation's operations from London.
BBC News is the largest broadcast news gathering operation in the world, providing services to BBC domestic radio as well as television networks such as BBC News 24, BBC Parliament and BBC World, as well as BBCi, Ceefax and BBC News Online. New BBC News services that are also proving popular are mobile services to mobile phones and PDAs. Desktop news alerts, e-mail alerts, and digital TV alerts are also available.
Ratings figures suggest that during major crises such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the 7 July 2005 London bombings or a Royal Funeral, the UK audience overwhelmingly turns to the BBC's coverage as opposed to its commercial rivals.
On 7 July 2005, the day that there were a series of coordinated bomb blasts on London's public transport system, the bbc.co.uk website recorded an all time bandwidth peak of 11 Gb/s at 12:00 on 7 July. BBC News received some 1 billion total hits on the day of the event (including all images, text and HTML), serving some 5.5 terabytes of data. At peak times during the day there were 40,000 page requests per second for the BBC News website. The previous day's announcement of the 2012 Olympics being awarded to London caused a peak of around 5 Gb/s. The previous all time high at bbc.co.uk was caused by the announcement of the Michael Jackson verdict, which used 7.2 Gb/s.
The BBC has five major national stations, Radio 1 ("the best new music and entertainment"), Radio 2 (the UK's most listened to radio station, with 12.9 million weekly listeners), Radio 3 (specialist-interest music such as classical, world, arts, drama and jazz), Radio 4 (current affairs, drama and comedy), and Radio 5 Live (24 hour news, sports and talk).
In recent years some further national stations have been introduced on digital radio platforms including Five Live Sports Extra (a companion to Five Live for additional events coverage), 1Xtra (for black, urban and gospel music), 6 Music (less mainstream genres of music), BBC 7 (Comedy, Drama & Kids shows) and BBC Asian Network (British South Asian talk, music and news in English and in many South Asian languages), a station which had evolved from BBC Local Radio origins in the 1970s and still is broadcast on Medium Wave frequencies in some parts of England. In addition the BBC World Service is now also broadcast nationally in the UK on DAB.
There is also a network of local stations with a mixture of talk, news and music in England and the Channel Islands as well as national stations (Nations' radio) of BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru (in Welsh), BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio nan Gaidheal (in Scots Gaelic), BBC Radio Ulster, and BBC Radio Foyle.
For a world-wide audience, the BBC produces the Foreign Office funded BBC World Service, which is broadcast worldwide on shortwave radio, and on DAB Digital Radio in the UK. The World Service is a major source of news and information programming and can be received in 150 capital cities worldwide, with a weekly audience estimate of 163 million listeners worldwide. The Service currently broadcasts in 33 languages and dialects (including English), though not all languages are broadcast in all areas.
In 2005, the BBC announced that it would substantially reduce its radio broadcasting in Eastern European languages and divert resources instead to a new Arabic language satellite TV broadcasting station (including radio and online content) in the Middle East to be launched in 2007.
Since 1943, the BBC has also provided radio programming to the British Forces Broadcasting Service, which broadcasts in countries where British troops are stationed.
All of the national, local, and regional BBC radio stations, as well as the BBC World Service, are available over the Internet in the RealAudio streaming format. In April 2005, the BBC began trials offering a limited number of radio programmes as podcasts.
Historically, the BBC was the only radio broadcaster in the UK until 1967, when University Radio York (URY), then under the name Radio York, was launched as the first (and now oldest) legal independent radio station in the country.
BBC One and BBC Two are the BBC's flagship television channels. The BBC is also promoting the new channels BBC Three and BBC Four, which are only available via digital television equipment (now in widespread use in the UK, with analogue transmission being phased out from October 2007). The BBC also runs BBC News 24, BBC Parliament, and two children's channels, CBBC and CBeebies, on digital.
BBC One is a regionalised TV service which provides opt-outs throughout the day for local news and other local programming. In the Republic of Ireland the Northern Ireland regionalised BBC One & BBC Two are available via analogue transmissions deflecting signals from the North and also carried out on Sky Digital, NTL Ireland and Chorus.
From June 9, 2006, the BBC began a 6-12 month trial of High-definition television broadcasts under the name BBC HD. The corporation has been producing programmes in the format for many years, and states that it hopes to produce 100% of new programmes in HDTV by 2010.
Since 1975, the BBC has also provided its TV programmes to the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS), allowing members of HM Forces serving all over the world to watch and listen to their favourite programmes from home on two dedicated TV channels.
The bbc.co.uk  website, formerly known as BBCi and before that BBC Online, includes a comprehensive, advertisement-free news website and archive. The BBC claims the site to be "Europe's most popular content-based site" and boasts that 13.2 million people in the UK visit the site's more than 2 million pages. According to Alexa's TrafficRank system, in March 2007 bbc.co.uk was the 19th most popular English Language website in the world, and the 31st most popular overall.
The website allows the BBC to produce sections which complement the various programmes on television and radio, and it is common for viewers and listeners to be told website addresses for the bbc.co.uk sections relating to that programme. The site also allows users to listen to most Radio output live and for seven days after broadcast using its RealPlayer-based "Radio Player"; some TV content is also distributed in RealVideo format. A new system known as IPlayer is under development, which uses peer-to-peer and DRM technology to deliver both radio and TV content for offline use for up to 7 days. Also, through participation in the Creative Archive Licence group, bbc.co.uk allowed legal downloads of selected archive material via the internet.
BBC jam is a free online service, delivered through broadband and narrowband connections, providing high-quality interactive resources designed to stimulate learning at home and at school. Initial content was made available in January 2006. BBC jam was suspended on 20th March 2007.
In recent years some major on-line companies and politicians have complained that the bbc.co.uk website receives too much funding from the television licence, meaning that other websites are unable to compete with the vast amount of advertising-free on-line content available on bbc.co.uk. Some have proposed that the amount of licence fee money spent on bbc.co.uk should be reduced — either being replaced with funding from advertisements or subscriptions, or a reduction in the amount of content available on the site. In response to this the BBC carried out an investigation, and has now set in motion a plan to change the way it provides its online services. bbc.co.uk will now attempt to fill in gaps in the market, but will guide users to other websites for currently existing market provision. (For example, instead of providing local events information and timetables, users will be guided to outside websites already providing that information.) Part of this plan included the BBC closing some of its websites, and rediverting money to redevelop other parts. More recent information on web plans at 
BBCi is the brand name for the BBC's interactive digital television services, which are available through Freeview (digital terrestrial), as well as Sky Digital (satellite), and Virgin Media (cable). Unlike Ceefax, BBCi is able to display full-colour graphics, photographs, and video, as well as programmes. Recent examples include the interactive sports coverage for football and rugby football matches, BBC Soundbites which starred young actress Jennifer Lynn and an interactive national IQ test, Test the Nation. All of the BBC's digital television stations, (and radio stations on Freeview), allow access to the BBCi service.
BBCi provides viewers with over 100 interactive TV programmes every year, as well as the 24/7 service. It also offers video news and weather.
BBC Worldwide Limited is the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the BBC responsible for the commercial exploitation of BBC programmes and other properties, including a number of television stations throughout the world. The cable and satellite stations BBC Prime (in Europe, Africa the Middle East, and Asia), BBC America, BBC Canada (alongside BBC Kids), broadcast popular BBC programmes to people outside the UK, as does UK.TV (co-run with Foxtel and Fremantle Media) in Australasia. A similar service, BBC Japan, ceased broadcasts in April 2006 after its Japanese distributor folded. BBC Worldwide also runs a 24-hour news channel, BBC World and co-runs, with Virgin Media, the UKTV network of stations in the UK, producers of amongst others UKTV Gold. In addition, BBC television news appears nightly on many Public Broadcasting Service stations in the United States, as do reruns of BBC programmes such as EastEnders, and in New Zealand on TV One.
Many BBC programmes (especially documentaries) are sold via BBC Worldwide to foreign television stations, and comedy, documentaries and historical drama productions are popular on the international DVD market.
BBC Worldwide also maintains the publishing arm of the BBC and it is the third-largest publisher of consumer magazines in the United Kingdom. BBC Magazines, formerly known as BBC Publications, publishes the Radio Times (and published the now-defunct The Listener) as well as a number of magazines that support BBC programming such as BBC Top Gear, BBC Good Food, BBC Sky at Night, BBC History, BBC Wildlife and BBC Music.
The BBC has traditionally played a major role in producing book and music tie-ins with its broadcast material. BBC Records produced soundtrack albums, talking books and material from radio broadcasts of music.
Between 2004 and 2006, BBC Worldwide owned the independent magazine publisher Origin Publishing.
BBC Worldwide also licences and directly sells DVD and audio recordings of popular programmes to the public, most notably Doctor Who (including books and merchandise), and archive classical music recordings, initially as BBC Radio Classics and then BBC Legends.
The BBC and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office jointly run BBC Monitoring, which monitors radio, television, the press and the internet worldwide.
Union membership is a private matter between staff and their chosen union: staff are not automatically covered by a union, but since the BBC is a large employer (in the media sector), membership numbers are considerable. unverified
Staff at the BBC are normally represented by BECTU, along with journalistic staff by the NUJ and electrical staff by Amicus. Union membership is optional, and paid for by staff members and not by the BBC.
The BBC was the only television broadcaster in the United Kingdom until 1955 and the only legal radio broadcaster until 1973. Its cultural impact was therefore significant since the country had no choice for its information and entertainment from these two powerful media.
Even after the advent of commercial television and radio, the BBC has remained one of the main elements in British in popular culture through its obligation to produce TV and radio programmes for the mass audiences. However the arrival of BBC2 allowed the BBC also to make programmes for minority interests in drama, documentaries, current affairs, entertainment and sport. Examples are cited such as I, Claudius, Civilisation, Tonight, Monty Python's Flying Circus, and Pot Black, but many other ground-breaking examples can be given in each of these fields as shown by the BBC's entries in the British Film Institute's 2000 list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. In radio the BBC has also maintained a high standard of news, drama, entertainment, documentaries, sport and music for all tastes, and still draws large audiences, while also serving minority tastes.
The BBC's objective of providing a service to the public, rather than just entertainment, has changed the public's perception in a wide range of subjects from health to natural history. By maintaining a high standard the BBC also defined a quality threshold that the commercial companies had to reach to retain their licences but the advent of the multi-channel age is lessening this effect. The export of BBC programmes, the BBC World Service and BBC World have meant that the cultural impact of the BBC has been also experienced world-wide.
Although the BBC has changed society, the society has also changed the BBC. The term BBC English (Received Pronunciation) refers to the former use of Standard English with this accent. However the organisation now makes more use of regional accents in order to reflect the diversity of the UK, though clarity and fluency are still expected of presenters. From its 'starchy' beginnings, the BBC has also become more inclusive, and now accommodates the interests of all strata of society and all minorities, because they all pay the licence fee. The BBC therefore plays a major role in maintaining a cohesive society.
Competition from Independent Television, Channel 4, Sky and other broadcast television stations, has slightly lessened the BBC's reach, but nevertheless it remains major influence on British popular culture. Many popular everyday sayings are derived from BBC-produced television shows.
Historically, the BBC has been subject to continuing criticism for various policies or perceived biases since its inception. It has also regularly received strongly-worded complaints from viewers concerned about levels of violence in BBC drama; a large volume of telephone calls are traditionally said to "jam the switchboards".
The BBC received its most recent serious criticism over its coverage of the events leading up to the war in Iraq. The controversy over what it described as the "sexing up" of the case for war in Iraq by the government led to the BBC being heavily criticised by the Hutton Inquiry, although this finding was much disputed by the British press. Greg Dyke, the former director-general who was compelled to resign in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry, has alleged that just before hostilities in the Middle East commenced, he was contacted by Prime Minister Tony Blair over the corporation's Iraq coverage; the Prime Minister apparently felt the BBC to be too 'anti-war'.
Loss of recordings
Richard Porter, the head of News at BBC World, reported they "no longer have the original tapes" of the BBC World version of their 9/11 coverage.. The BBC's also reputation suffered over its 1970s junking policy which saw many recordings destroyed; for example, the tapes of over 100 episodes of the science fiction series Doctor Who were reused or thrown away to clear space.
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